- Praveen Sharma is a details man. His older dance floor releases were categorizable as house music, but this was house filtered through a post-dubstep lens, one where tricky rhythms, references to neo-soul and R&B and a surfeit of time-stretched vocals were key signatures. On Mute Swan, he's still using those same elements, but in a much slower, quieter way. Ignoring the dance floor (save the drowsy UK funky of "Better Than Nothing"), this album deals in woozy 5 AM jams. Sharma's delicate constructions of popping, finger-drum beats, vocal snippets and muggy synths rotate in midair like mobiles over a child's crib.
There is a lot of this tastefully emotive, post-Burial stuff about (what The Guardian has dubbed "sad bangers"), and there is a slickness to Sharma's song-based vocal tracks that places him at the wipe-clean, Chet Faker end of that spectrum. "The Cat's Gone Nuts" attempts to weld an emotive chorus to—bizarrely—a vocal sample about a dehydrated cat. "It's All Right" is pleasant but forgettable R&B, while "I Assume," a collaboration with Jesse Boykins III, hovers in Junior Boys territory, without locating a killer hook or landing a true emotional punch.
Mute Swan is better when it deals in pure sound. Nicolas Jaar fans will love "Shhhh" or "Ended Up In NY." Both are slow-motion, stop-start collages, underpinned with plaintive minor chords and bristling with unexpected vocal and environmental samples. In their sweetly ambiguous anguish, such tracks are more affecting than Sharma's relatively methodical vocal cuts. Mute Swan is the sound of a producer groping towards genuine creative originality.
02. The Cat’s Gone Nuts feat. Seafloor
03. Better Than Nothing feat. Angelica Bess
04. Insider Out
05. Ports feat. Angelica Bess
06. Ended Up In NY
07. It's All Right feat. Angelica Bess
08. I Assume feat. Jesse Boykins III & Throwing Snow
09. Stop Drop & Roll
10. Everyone’s Crazy
12. An Oceanic Escape feat. Olivia Sholler
13. Gee Whiz